Eric Darby

contributor to 2 posters

  •  Onondaga's Carp


    Onondaga's Carp

    I write poetry often, but not much haiku. When I do try that form, it's usually for a specific reason, like this contest. Since haiku traditionally involves nature, I wanted to find a metaphor for Syracuse in nature. I'm a fisherman, so I started thinking about the slow rebirth of Onondaga Lake, which can now support a bass and carp population. In America, carp aren't considered a sport fish—they're called trash or junk fish. But in Europe, they're highly prized and there are huge carp fishing tournaments, so it's a matter of perception.

    Carp can thrive in harsh conditions, and are prized by some people, so that became the central idea of the poem, because so-called harsh conditions are also a matter of perception. So many Syracuse residents defy perceptions of what life would be in a wintery, post-industrial city, and are thriving in a place that might be too harsh for others.

  • People picking and canning peaches


    Canning Peaches, Corn

    Syracuse is a rare city: farmland and its products are easily accessible from the urban center and even easier on Saturday mornings at the Farmer's Market. Having also lived in Detroit and Boston, I appreciated this access when I moved to Syracuse. Growing up in rural Maine, my family maintained a large garden, and we grew most of our own vegetables in the summer. My mom canned and preserved, and in Syracuse I started doing it myself, and rediscovered those skills.

    I respond better to poetry that is (pardon the pun) rooted in strong images, and I think my own writing is stronger when it is image-based, so the image of canned produce felt like a natural way to discuss season—which is integral to haiku—and also the idea of work, and the endurance of work in the literal act of preservation.

    More succinctly stated: the inspiration was already on my kitchen counter!